Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Legend of the Infant Servius Tullius

Bonifacio de' Pitati (Bonifacio Veronese) (Italian, Verona 1487–1553 Venice)
Oil on canvas
10 1/2 x 40 1/4 in. (26.7 x 102.2 cm)
Credit Line:
The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931
Accession Number:
Not on view
Charles Butler, London (by 1881–d. 1910; his estate sale, Christie's, London, May 25–26, 1911, no. 106, as "The Infant Moses brought to Pharaoh's Palace," for £110.5.0 to Colnaghi); [Colnaghi, London, from 1911]; private collection, London (until 1917; sale, American Art Association, New York, April 16–17, 1917, no. 139, for $6,700 to Kleinberger); [Kleinberger, New York, 1917; sold to Friedsam]; Michael Friedsam, New York (1917–d. 1931)
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Winter Exhibition," January–March 1881, no. 202 (as "The Infant Moses brought to Pharaoh's Palace," by Bonifazio Veronese, lent by Charles Butler).

New York. F. Kleinberger Galleries. "Italian Primitives," November 12–30, 1917, no. 97.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Michael Friedsam Collection," November 15, 1932–April 9, 1933, no catalogue.

New York. American Federation of the Arts. "Saints (circulating exhibition)," January 1951–September 1952, no catalogue?

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Venetian Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," May 1–September 2, 1974, no catalogue.

"The Royal Academy." Athenæum no. 2778 (January 22, 1881), p. 139, states that it is "attributed with great probability to Bonifazio Veneziano" [Bonifazio Veronese].

Osvald Sirén and Maurice W. Brockwell. Catalogue of a Loan Exhibition of Italian Primitives. Exh. cat., F. Kleinberger Galleries, Inc. New York, 1917, pp. 240–41, no. 97, ill., call it a cassone panel.

Bernard Berenson in The Michael Friedsam Collection. [completed 1928], p. 99, dates it to Bonifazio's late period; compares it to the work of Antonio Palma and Andrea Schiavone.

Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 95, calls it a cassone panel.

Bryson Burroughs and Harry B. Wehle. "The Michael Friedsam Collection: Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27, section 2 (November 1932), p. 40, no. 67, state that it was made to decorate a chest.

Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 81.

Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 197–98, ill., calls it perhaps an overdoor; relates it to a panel by Bonifazio depicting the finding of Moses (Palazzo Pitti, Florence).

Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Venetian School. London, 1957, vol. 1, p. 43, tentatively identifies the subject as the Birth of Saint Ambrose.

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 31, 368, 607, as "Miracle of St. Ambrose" and "Miracle of the Bees".

Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Venetian School. New York, 1973, pp. 12–13, pl. 11, suggest that it may have decorated a chest or some other piece of furniture, or have been an overdoor; add that it was probably one of a series, now dispersed or lost; call it a mature work, and see the influence of Lambert Sustris and Andrea Schiavone in the elongated mannerist figures.

Simonetta Simonetti. "Profilo di Bonifacio de' Pitati." Saggi e memorie di storia dell'arte 15 (1986), p. 119, no. 67, fig. 87, dates it about 1550.

Lino Moretti. Letter to Aleen Marsh. May 22, 1991, suggests that the subject is the legend of the newborn Servius Tullius, as related by Livy ("Ab Urbe Condita," Book I, XXXIX) [see Notes].

Colnaghi in America: A Survey to Commemorate the First Decade of Colnaghi New York. Ed. Nicholas H. J. Hall. New York, 1992, p. 131.

As told by Livy (Book I, XXXIX), King Tarquinius and Queen Tanaquil witnessed the head of a young boy, Servius Tullius, burst into flames and took this as a portent, making him their heir. The painting depicts the moment when the king and queen rush into the room in which the infant lies in his cradle.
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